Nigerian taxman FIRS to charge you N50 stamp duty on WhatsApp messages, ATM printouts

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All electronic receipts will now attract a N50 stamp duty according to an official memo issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“Any electronic receipt [written, printed or in electronic form] for, or electronic transfer of, money deposited with any bank or with any banker in any type of account of an amount from N10,000 upwards shall attract a singular or one-off duty of the sum of N50,” said the Nigeria’s taxman in the circular issued in April and signed by Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami.

The implication: Nigerians will now pay stamp duties on WhatsApp messages, SMS, and messages via any electronic platform acknowledging receipt of funds (N10,000 and above). These include POS receipts, fiscalised device receipts, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) print-outs”.

According to the circular all receipts, either printed or electronically generated, or any form of electronic acknowledgement of money transactions, will attract the stamp duty of N50.

FIRS further clarified that it is the only body authorised to collect such duties.

Its words: “The Federal Inland Revenue Service is the only competent authority to impose, charge, and collect duties upon instruments specified in the schedule to this act if such instrument relates to matters executed between a company and an individual, group or body of individuals.”

The agency had earlier in February 2020 informed the public of its statutory right as the sole agency responsible for collection of stamp duties on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

How will the stamp duty apply to WhatsApp messages?

The FIRS illustrated the applicable scenarios on its website. One of the scenarios explains: “ABZ Ltd’s chief accounting officer, after receiving a cash payment of N500,000 from Mr. XYZ on behalf of ABZ Ltd., composed a message which reads: ‘receipt of N500,000 is hereby acknowledged’ and sent same to Mr. XYZ via WhatsApp messenger”.

“In this case, the WhatsApp message acknowledging the receipt of N500,000 constitutes a receipt for which stamp duty is payable.

Other instruments subject to charge, as listed in the circular, include; fixed duty instruments such as Power of Attorney, Certificate of Attorney, Proxy forms, Appointment of receivers, Memorandum of Understanding, Joint Venture Agreements, Guarantors form, Ordinary agreements and Receipts; and Ad-valorem instruments such as Tenancy or lease agreements, legal mortgage or debentures, Sales agreements and Deed of assignments.

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